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No spoilers here about Avengers: Endgame. No in-depth review, either, since it would be far too easy to fall into spoiler territory. Instead just a few observations:

A three-hour runtime could easily have been punishing (and it might be—to your bladder), but directors Anthony and Joe Russo have delivered an epic that is light on its feet: Action-packed, full of suspense relieved by liberal doses of humor, and emotionally resonant, this is what action adventure storytelling should be and so often isn’t.

In a large ensemble full of memorable performances, Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans stand out, respectively burnishing the legends of Howard Stark/Iron Man and Steve Rogers/Captain America with turns that emphasize their characters’ humanity. This might be just another day at the office for Evans, whose Captain America has always been imbued with a huge dose of empathy along with sorrow for what he lost during the decades he spent in suspended animation. His superb emotional performance is hardly surprising. Downey, on the other hand—Howard Stark has always been a smug, snarky character hovering on the insufferable. While he doesn’t exactly lose those traits in Endgame, he does evolve. Thanos (Josh Brolin) did a number on him in Infinity Wars and it shows in an altogether warmer, more open, and a somewhat humbled (if not humbler) Howard Stark.

Endgame also pays a fond farewell to Marvel’s Stan Lee with his final cameo appearance. Mr. Lee might’ve died in 2018 at 95, but he is going to live forever through his comic books and through his movies. As an adieu to his physical being, his Endgame cameo is tops, a funny moment in the movie that pays homage to Lee’s humor and zest for life.

That’s it. To say more would be to fall too close to spoiler territory. Not going there. Does Avengers: Endgame live up to the hype? Yes, yes is does. –Pam Grady